Wall Street was once again in a holiday mood today and shook off a poor report on the housing market to notch substantial gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished nearly 0.9% higher, while the S&P 500 gained nearly 0.4% and the Nasdaq Composite was up 0.3%.
Despite low mortgage interest rates, real estate purchases of previously owned homes fell 6.1% to a 4.9 million annual rate in November, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This was the weakest monthly report since May 2014, and was a decline from the 5.3 million annual rate in October.
Demand declined in every region of the country, negating typical excuses, such as “bad weather” often heard among housing experts during winter months. The report only briefly weighed on stocks, but could not buck the festive mood among traders.
Winning sectors today were technology and telecommunications. Three stocks that led the holiday cheer on Wall Street were Caesars Entertainment Corp (CZR), Twitter Inc (TWTR), and Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ACHN).
Caesars Entertainment Corp (CZR)
CZR bolted up 11% after saying it would acquire Caesars Acquisition Company, a publicly traded subsidiary, enabling it to restructure debt held by Caesars Entertainment Operating Company without adding more debts or diluting current shareholders.
The all-stock deal gives CZR $1.7 billion in cash and allows it to fund the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Caesars Entertainment Operating Company, which is scheduled for January.
Shareholders applauded this move because it returns several of the best Caesars properties to the parent company without assuming any further debt.
Twitter Inc (TWTR)
TWTR stock rose more than 3% after an Argus analyst initiated coverage of the social media company with a “buy” rating. Argus set a price target of $44, based on a valuation call. Last week TWTR was upgraded from “hold” to “buy” by analysts at Pivotal Research.
Also of significance last week was a report that while Facebook usage among teenagers is declining, more teens are now using Twitter. That should bode well for Twitter for several years.
TWTR stock fell from $56 to $36 between October and mid-December, but has now bounced back about 10% over the last week.
Interestingly, as InvestorPlace contributor Karl Utermohlen noted last week, CEO Dick Costolo has recently sold $5.3 million worth of TWTR shares through his family trust. Was Costolo selling at the bottom, or does he know something more about TWTR’s future?
Achillion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (ACHN)
ACHN stock soared 9% today after reporting highly favorable clinical trial results of two of its experimental Hepatitis C drugs in combination with each other.
Achillion said that after six weeks of treatment with ACH-3102 and ACH-3422, 12 patients with type 1 hepatitis C had undectable virus levels. Achillion also announced they will begin larger clinical trials next year.
Shares of ACHN stock have more than doubled over the last four months.
As of this writing, Ethan Roberts did not hold any positions in the aforementioned securities.
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